BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) – A 60-year-old National Park Service employee was critically injured in an apparent assault in southeastern Arizona, and her government-owned truck was later found in a border town about 40 miles away, authorities said Thursday.
Karen Gonzales, a uniformed maintenance worker with the Park Service and a longtime seasonal employee, was found unconscious Wednesday afternoon in a picnic area restroom at Chiricahua National Monument.
Gonzales suffered head trauma and was airlifted to a Tucson hospital, where she remained in critical but stable condition, Park Service spokeswoman Michelle Fidler said.
Gonzales’ government vehicle was found several hours later in the city of Douglas by tracking the worker’s cellphone, which was still inside.
Authorities were processing the vehicle Thursday searching for clues in the case, Fidler said.
“It appears to be an assault and robbery,” Fidler said. “We’re still investigating all leads.”
No suspects have been arrested or identified, authorities said.
Perryn Collier, a spokesman for the FBI in Phoenix, said the agency was assisting in the investigation being conducted by the Cochise County sheriff’s office and Park Service law enforcement officials.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said the pickup truck was found in the middle of the border town of Douglas. There was no immediate evidence that whoever abandoned it had crossed the border into Mexico, she said.
Douglas is about 40 miles south of the national monument, which is in mountains and desert on the east side of a broad valley that runs north from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The region is used by drug smugglers and people entering the United States illegally.
“We do have significant foot traffic and vehicle traffic that’s attributed to illegal activity,” Capas said.
Deputies were working closely with federal and state law officers to “identify the suspect(s) who apparently seriously injured a federal employee,” Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said in a statement released by his office.
The monument was the site of the still-unsolved 1980 disappearance of a Park Service ranger, Paul Fugate, who was last seen when he went on foot patrol.
Also in the region, the unsolved shooting death of a Douglas-area rancher, Rob Krentz, helped spur passage of a 2010 Arizona law targeting illegal immigration.
Krentz was gunned down in March 2010 while checking water lines on his property. Authorities believe _ but have never produced substantive proof _ that a scout for drug smugglers killed Krentz.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down some parts of the 2010 law two years later, including the requirement that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers. But the high court upheld a requirement that Arizona officers question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns